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Sweet or savory? Both, according to 'Baking With Dorie,' acclaimed baker's creative new cookbook

You might wonder, is there really anything new to bake? And aren’t there enough cookbooks out there already? Turns out the answers are no and no — and the evidence is Dorie Greenspan‘s new book “Baking With Dorie.”

Greenspan is a five-time James Beard award winner, a columnist for The New York Times, and the writer of 13 prior cookbooks. But mostly, she’s a baker who consistently has something innovative to share.

Among the offerings in her latest book, which features savory and sweet bakes, are a coconut milk chocolate cake, a double-decker salted caramel cake, scones pudding, maple bacon chocolate chip cookies and a clam chowder pie.

Greenspan joins host Robin Young to talk about the book and share some advice.

Miso-Maple Loaf

Makes about 10 servings

IF I OWNED A BED-AND-BREAKFAST, I’d make this my signature treat. Sturdy, coarse-crumbed (I say this with admiration) and on the brink of savory, the loaf is reminiscent of many crowd-pleasers. It may make you think of honey cake or gingerbread or banana bread, but in the end, it will never be anything other than itself—it’s an original.

The miso and maple are less stand-out individual players than they are a team working together to create flavors that are robust, warm and mysterious. And, along with the recipe’s buttermilk, their moistness contributes to the bread’s lovely crumb, which is slightly open and very tender.

I prefer white (shiro) miso here, but if you’re looking for a stronger flavor, you can use red. You can also switch the orange or tangerine zest for lemon, if you’d like.

  • 1¾ cups (238 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup (150 grams) sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange or 2 tangerines
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (70 grams) white miso
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) pure maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup (80 ml) buttermilk (well shaken before measuring)


FOR THE GLAZE (OPTIONAL)

  • About ¼ cup (80 grams) orange marmalade or apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon water


Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch loaf pan and dust with flour, or use baker’s spray. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.

Put the sugar, salt and zest in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl that you can use with a hand mixer. Reach in and rub the ingredients together until the sugar is moist and fragrant; it may even turn orange. Add the butter, miso and maple syrup to the bowl. If using, attach the bowl to the mixer stand and fit it with the paddle attachment.

Beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl and beater(s) as needed, until you’ve got a smooth, creamy mixture. One by one, add the eggs, beating for a minute after each goes in. Beat in the vanilla. The mixture might curdle, but this is a temporary condition. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once and then pulse to begin the blending. Beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated. With the mixer still on low, pour in the buttermilk and blend well. Scrape the batter into the pan, working it into the corners and smoothing the top.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, checking the bread after 40 minutes and covering the top loosely with a foil or parchment tent if it’s browning too fast. The loaf is properly baked when it pulls away from the sides of the pan and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. The top will be flat—this bread doesn’t rise above the pan—and most likely cracked down the middle. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the bread rest for 5 minutes, then run a table knife around the edges of the loaf and unmold onto the rack; turn it right side up.

IF YOU’D LIKE TO GLAZE THE BREAD: Stir the marmalade or jam and water together and heat the mixture in the microwave or over low heat until it comes just to a boil. Using a pastry brush (or a spoon), cover the top of the loaf with the glaze. Allow the bread to cool to room temperature before slicing.

STORING: Wrapped well, the bread will keep for about 4 days at room temperature. If it stales—or maybe even if it doesn’t—toast it lightly before serving. If you haven’t glazed it, you can wrap it airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months; defrost, still wrapped, at room temperature.

A Big Banana Cake

Makes 12 servings

THIS IS A CAKE for a time when the house is filled with people, when its arrival at the table will be met with cheers. It’s a three-layer cake, filled and frosted with a billowy mix of cream cheese and spiced cookie spread—a splendid match—and topped with chocolate shavings or pearls, colorful sprinkles or even sparklers, if you like. I’ve grounded the cake with some whole wheat flour and more brown sugar than white, given it a touch of sharpness by using sour cream and gone deep on allspice. Allspice is a warm spice and so good with banana. Allspice is a little peppery (it’s also known as Jamaican pepper) and calls to mind cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Save your soft, speckled bananas for this—you need 3 or 4 of them. If they are ready before you are, pop them into the freezer to hold them until cake day.

I like this cake plain, but it lends itself to add-ins; see Playing Around.

FOR THE CAKE

  • 2 cups (272 grams) all-purpose flour 1 cup (136 grams) whole wheat flour 2 teaspoons ground allspice 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces; 226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 grams) packed brown sugar 1⁄2 cup (100 grams) sugar 2 large eggs, at room temperature 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 13⁄4 cups (420 ml) mashed bananas (from 3 to 4 overripe bananas)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt


FOR THE FILLING AND FROSTING

  • About 3⁄4 cup (6 ounces; 170 grams) cookie spread, such as Lotus Biscoff
  • 3 ounces (85 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 41⁄2 ounces; 127 grams) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
  • 41⁄2 cups (540 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk, plus a little more if needed
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Chocolate shavings, chocolate pearls or any kind of sprinkles for decoration (optional)


TO MAKE THE CAKE: If your oven is large enough to hold three 9-inch round cake pans on one rack, center the oven rack; if not, position the racks to divide the oven into thirds. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour the three cake pans, or use baker’s spray. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

Whisk both flours, the allspice, salt and baking soda together.

Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until light, smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. One at a time, add the eggs, beating for a minute after each goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the vanilla, then the bananas.

Turn off the mixer, add half of the dry ingredients and pulse to begin blending them in. Add the sour cream or yogurt and, working on low speed, mix to combine. Turn off the mixer again, add the remaining dry ingredients and then beat on low to finish mixing the batter. Divide the batter evenly among the three pans and smooth the tops.

Gouda Gougères

Makes about 55 puffs

GOUGÈRES IS THE FRENCH NAME for cheese puffs, the nibble that’s become my signature. Visit me, and I’ll greet you at the door with a glass of cold white wine and a bowl of hot-from-the-oven gougères. Because I love them so much and bake them so often, I’ve made them with dozens of different cheeses (see Playing Around), yet it’s only recently that I discovered how good gougères are made with Gouda. Gouda can range from softish, mild, pale and creamy to hard- enough-to grate, caramel-colored and sharp. As the cheese ages, its texture firms and its flavor intensifies. The color of its wax coating changes too—young cheeses are covered in red wax, more mature cheeses are wrapped in black wax. Since I love strong flavors, I prefer older Goudas, but this recipe will work with any Gouda you like, even smoked. (If you want to use smoked cheese, use it as an accent, swapping just one quarter to half the amount of regular cheese for smoked.)

When I began making gougères with Gouda, I started seasoning the dough with ground cumin and sprinkling the puffs with cumin seeds and flaky salt just before baking. Like more traditional gougères, these are great with white wine, especially a sparkling one, but when there’s Gouda and cumin in the mix, beer’s a good choice too.

  • 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) milk
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin 1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour 4 large eggs
  • 3 ounces (85 grams) Gouda, preferably one with a little age (see headnote), shredded or grated
  • A few tablespoons cumin seeds for sprinkling
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If you want to bake all of the puffs at once, position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats. If you’re going to freeze half or more of the batch, center a rack in the oven and line just one baking sheet.

Put the water, milk, butter, salt and cumin in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the flour all at once, grab a sturdy flexible spatula and begin beating. Beat until you’ve got a dough that pulls away from the pan and leaves a film on the bottom (you might not get a film if your pan is nonstick), about 4 minutes.

Turn the dough out into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or into a large bowl that you can use with a hand mixer (or the spatula). Add the eggs one by one, beating for a minute after each goes in. You’ll have a smooth, shiny dough. Beat or stir in the cheese.

Scoop out balls of dough with a small cookie scoop (one with a capacity of 2 teaspoons) and arrange on the baking sheet(s), leaving a scant 2 inches between them, or use a teaspoon to portion out rounded spoonfuls of dough. (You can make the puffs ahead and freeze them on the baking sheets until solid, then pack airtight and freeze for up to 2 months.)

Sprinkle the tops of the puffs with cumin seeds and top each with a few flakes of sea salt. Bake the puffs for 30 minutes; if you’re baking two sheets, quickly rotate the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 15 minutes.

Turn off the oven, open the door a crack—prop it slightly ajar with a wooden spoon—and let the puffs dry for about 10 minutes; they should feel firm and you should be able to peel them off the paper easily. Serve immediately— although these are delicious warm or at room temperature, they are really at their best when they’re hot.

STORING: Please try to serve these as soon after they’re baked as possible. If you must hold them, you can give them a few minutes in a 350-degree-F oven to refresh them before serving.

Playing Around

CHEESE STICKS

Pipe the dough out into long sticks. You can use a pastry bag or a disposable pastry bag with a 1⁄2-inch opening cut in the tip for this; or cut an opening in a bottom corner of a ziplock bag. For directions on piping, see the Pocky Sticks recipe, page 223.

Bake the sticks for 25 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 12 minutes, then dry the sticks in the turned-off oven with the door propped slightly ajar for 15 minutes. While the puffs are good hot, these are best at room temperature.

CLASSIC GOUGÈRES

The classic cheese for gougères is Gruyère or Comté. You can add a couple of pinches of herbes de Provence or 2 to 3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary to the dough and sprinkle some finely chopped walnuts on top of the puffs (or sticks) before baking them, if you like. Parmesan is also good with rosemary and walnuts. Cheddar is always a fine idea: Pair it with about 1⁄4 teaspoon mustard powder or smoked paprika (a little of either can go a long way) and finely chopped almonds for the sprinkle—smoked almonds, if you’ve got them. Sesame seeds go with just about everything.

A WORD ON WORKING AHEAD: The easiest way to have fresh puffs when you need them is to scoop out the freshly made dough and freeze the puffs on the baking sheets until solid, then pack airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to bake, arrange the frozen puffs on a lined baking sheet and let them sit on the counter while you preheat the oven. Sprinkle with the cumin and salt right before.


Excerpted from BAKING WITH DORIE: Sweet, Salty, & Simple © 2021 by Dorie Greenspan. Photography © 2021 by Mark Weinberg. Reproduced by permission of Mariner Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dorie Greenspan.
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Dorie Greenspan.